Double Dutch, 20th December 2014
After Thursday's tasty double, Friday was a double dip, though fortunately not in recession terms!
We remain fractions off 90 points in front overall, and 75 points up in 2014 which, in truth, is a good bit better than I anticipated at the start of the year. It'd be great if we could get to 80 points up before the year is out.
Friday's results were as follows:
Novalist : 6th at 9/2 (adv 7/2)
Two Shades Of Grey: 2nd at 9/4 (adv 5/2)
Warm Order : 6th at 5/2 (adv 3/1)
Rat Catcher : 4th at 9/2 (adv 8/1)
Results to date:
441 winning selections from 1534 = 28.75%
140 winning bets in 398 days = 35.18%
P/L : +89.61pts (+11.24% ROI)
REMINDER: THERE IS NO DOUBLE DUTCH ON SUNDAYS
Tricky Saturday fare today, though we've done well on recent Saturdays, so we'll bid to keep that running into our traditional Sunday rest day...
A very good mares' novices hurdle, as it should be for the prize money and the Listed status (so valuable for the lasses to get 'black type' from a breeding perspective).
Harry Fry runs the unbeaten mud lover, Bitofapuzzle, and she'll take a world of beating on the heavy ground. She's yet to be seriously challenged, and was arguably most impressive when winning a Listed bumper on heavy at Huntingdon at the very start of the year. She's already won over further - and shorter - so the trip holds no fears, and she's won on all sorts of track types (left handed, right handed, flat, undulating, sharp, galloping). I think she'll win.
If she doesn't, Alan King's The Pirate's Queen should be the one. Only fourth on heavy in February, it is likely that run was a prep for the Mares' Final at Newbury, in which she finished a very good second on good to soft. Since then, TPQ has run close to Blaklion, form which received a huge boost last weekend when that one bolted up in a good Cheltenham Festival trial at Chelters. She won easily last time out, and comes here as the highest rated mare (albeit that Bitofapuzzle's inexperience of hurdles means she's not yet rated).
I'm taking a real flyer here, so be warned! Basically, I think the 11/8 favourite, Zarkandar, is readily opposable at the price. He's been well beaten in his two races at this trip, both in Grade 1 (same as today) company. He's been beaten both times he's raced on soft ground in Britain, and he's not won in his last six starts here either, a sequence which includes four second places. Ouch.
He did though win a decent three mile soft ground G1 in France last time, and it will be very interesting to see if he can translate that to UK racing (though I haven't seen the time, it's often the case that they crawl and then sprint in such events).
There are two solid if less classy alternatives, and I reckon they could well exposed the frailties in the jolly's portfolio.
Medinas was impressive in beating Cole Harden and a woefully under-cooked More Of That in the Long Distance Hurdle, and he looks to be a smart animal when faced with a trip and soft ground, the two imponderables for the favourite. He was nine lengths behind Zarkandar in the World Hurdle, but that was on good ground, and this is soft. It could be the difference.
Moreover, in our corner we'll also have the defending champ of the past two years, Reve De Sivola. Trainer Nick Williams also saddles Aubusson, a progressive sort in his own right, but presumably in the race to make the pace for the hat-trick seeker.
Soft ground is spot on for RdS, as it was when he won this last year. His two wins have been by 14 lengths and 10 lengths, so there was no fluke about them. But it's fair to say he's been in less compelling form this season so far, down the field in two Auteuil hurdles, one of them behind Zarkandar that last day.
At nine, it's possible he's on the wane now, but we know he has his conditions, and he's the sort of price about which to take a chance. If Zark is good enough, so be it.
4 x 0.5pt doubles as follows:
Bitofapuzzle / Medinas @ 9.71/1 (11/8 & 7/2 : BetVictor)
Bitofapuzzle / Reve De Sivola @ 12.50/1 (5/4 & 5/1 : Coral)
The Pirate's Queen / Medinas @ 11.38/1 (7/4 & 7/2 : BetVictor)
The Pirate's Queen / Reve De Sivola @ 14.13/1 (7/4 & 9/2 : BetVictor)